Wednesday, January 31, 2007

James Pinkerton on Hagel and McCain

Bush's war in Iraq is a fiasco. The war was based on lies that the major media bought into line, hook and sinker. Unfortunately, someone has failed to notify James Pinkerton. Here's Pinkerton's first two paragraphs plus a paragraph on Hagel from his article in Newsday (hat tip to The Huffington Post):
It's official: Chuck Hagel is the new John McCain, getting the glowing treatment from glam publications such as GQ. And John McCain is the new Bob Dole - and we know what kind of press Dole got. Perhaps I should explain.

Once upon a time - say, five years ago - the liberal media were infatuated with McCain. Yes, the Republican senator from Arizona was a hard-line conservative on most matters, but he was sufficiently unorthodox on a few issues (campaign finance, global warming, tax cuts) to be newsworthy. In addition, McCain was enough of a George W. Bush basher to keep reporters interested in what he might say next.


But of course, just as the media take away, the media also give. And the recipient of media blessings these days is Chuck Hagel, senator from Nebraska. As a Republican critical of the Bush policy in Iraq, Hagel is infinitely more valuable to the anti-war cause than a mere Democrat. After all, nobody is surprised anymore when a Democrat opposes the war, but it's notable when a Republican breaks ranks with his own party's president - especially when he uses such punchy language, referring to the Iraq surge as the "most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam."

James Pinkerton is far from being the most right wing of commentators so I'm somewhat surprised at his 'interpretation' of the last five years. First, what liberal media? Rupert Murdoch's empire? The Washington Post? The Chicago Tribune? Clear Channel? CNN? The Washington Times? Does Pinkerton mean Tim Russert of NBC who, according to a witness in the Scooter Libby trial, apparently is the favorite go-to person when Cheney wants to get a pro-administration message out? If he means The New York Times, the Times supported Bush on the war for the first two years (and there was also Judith Miller's botched reporting; she was on the witness stand yesterday explaining her methods and relationship to Scooter Libby).

Second, the people in the media 'infatuated' with McCain appear to me to have been somewhat moderate conservatives who saw McCain as one of those rare Republicans willing to admit from time to time, that yes, maybe 2 + 2 = 4; maybe torture is a violation of the Constitution, maybe we need campaign finance reform, maybe the Republican culture of destruction is a bit much, etc. McCain's voting record in Congress of course, with just a handful of exceptions, was just as conservative as the majority of Republican right wingers who now dominate the party. All that changed in 2004 when McCain decided to run for president in 2008; since then, he's been trying the Rove/Bush method of political success.

The Republican Party is broken. The world knows it is broken. A majority of Americans know it is broken. The Republican Party has failed America. It continues to fail America by blocking the will of the American people on things like minimum wage and bringing the war in Iraq to a close before a greater catastrophe unfolds. If there are conservatives, moderates and liberals who look to somebody like Chuck Hagel as the person who might be able to rebuild the Republican Party, it's because we believe it's in the interests of all Americans to have two viable and functioning political parties. Republicans in recent years, with a great deal of help from the media that Pinkerton wishes to label as 'liberal,' has been very successful at winning elections and they have been dismal at governing and addressing the concerns of most Americans.

I know, when Republicans have nothing to say, they look for attack points and labeling the media as 'liberal' when they don't jump through right wing hoops is one of their lazy but somewhat effective methods of getting traction. But Pinkerton on occassion has been one of those conservatives that liberals like myself point to when we wonder if the Republican Party can return to the universe as the rest of us know it. Perhaps I was wrong.

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Blogger Craig said...

Personal note. I'm taking an annoying antibiotic to fight a stubborn infection. I'm fine but I reserve the option of being grumpy and sluggish for a few days.

Recently, I looked through the archives of Donkey Path including a post in April about an article by Carl Berstein. Many of the posts on Donkey Path sound like they were written yesterday rather than months ago. I know many other blogs are the same way. This is not a reflection on me since, after all, I tend to quote many major figures such as Zbigniew Brzezinski. It is evident, however, that we are truly in the midst of an historical epoch. When I'm under the weather, check out the archives and you'll see what I mean.

2:02 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Craig, good luck with the illness. I hope the antibiotic works well and quickly for you. I'll keep a good thought.

Re: the supposed liberal media. Let's not forget Time and its intrepid journalist Matthew Cooper. Like the New York Times and Miller, Time and Cooper withheld a story — for a full year — that could've and should've been put before the public in October 2004. Their lame excuse: They said they didn't want to affect the election!

I happen to know a thing or two about journalism, and one of the things rookies learn is that when you've got your story and done the best fact checking you can, you put it out. It's considered a duty, part of the mission of informing the public.

Exceptions are supposed to be rarer than hens' teeth, reserved for the likes of the Normandy invasion or Cuban missile crisis. Worries about jiggering an election aren't supposed to figure in.

There's a good case to be made that had the Times and Time published that story in a timely way, the '04 election might well have turned out differently — to the benefit of the U.S. and Iraq.

Re: Pinkerton, my exposure to him has mostly been as one of the talking heads on Fox News' media-watch program. There, Pinkerton has distinguished himself by vying with Cal Thomas to see who can make the most inane comments and smarmy statements before the show is mercifully over. Oh, and let's not forget dropping in RNC talking points.

The Republican who strikes me as most sane, balanced, decent and traditional is David Gergen. When he talks, I listen. He rarely just parrots right-wing talking points. He's not bashful about acknowledging Democrats who bring forth a good proposal, make good sense about a situation or do a good job.

Neither does Gergen make striking, renegade-type statements. If Bush had been smart, he would've gotten down on his knees and begged Gergen to take over as staff chief when Card departed.

5:10 PM  
Blogger Craig said...

S.W., Gergen has always been one of the more sane Republicans. Of course, he's an old school Republican but that's a compliment.

Sitting on obvious stories, by the way, is something I don't understand. It's a strange era in journalism.

P.S. Thanks for the thought.

11:07 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Craig, in the case of Time and the New York Times in October 2004, I can only conclude the powers that be at both — likely the corporate powers that be at both — made a calculated decision to err on the side of not hurting Bush's re-election chances.

Whether their motives were financial, political/ideological or they feared a backlash from angry Bush loyalists, vindication of charges of liberal media bias and all that, we'll probably never know.

11:22 PM  

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